The Militarisation of Politics and Society
The Traditional Role of the Military
The military is the main armed wing of a State. It is a part of society's political structure and an instrument of the policy pursued by the ruling classes in regard to internal and external affairs. The organised establishment of the military began when the State emerged. Although it is impossible to determine precisely when and how the state system emerged, it is undeniable that force was a factor in bringing it about. The military came into being, among other things, to maintain internal peace and order and to protect the State from external dangers. This coercive power - the power to enforce decisions - was employed by the State in the performance of its functions. Thus, these police functions of the State naturally necessitated the maintenance of a machinery capable of achieving this end. It is in this context that the army began to play its role in politics in traditional society.
In an antagonistic society, the army as a whole has been an instrument in the hands of the exploiting classes and has confronted the people as an alien and hostile force. Instances of this can be cited from history, such as the use of the military power of the State against the armies of slaves led by Spartacus in ancient Rome and peasants fighting in peasant wars, uprisings in France and England in the 14th century, Germany in the 16th century, the armed workers' detachments and militia bodies formed during the Paris Commune in 1871, and the first Russian Revolution of 1905 to 1907, etc. The armies of the exploiting classes have invariably been formed for the single purpose of suppressing the enslaved classes and conquering other countries and nations.
Likewise, the armies of large countries in the world have always been in the forefront of promoting colonialism and neo-colonialism. In the course of four centuries, Britain, the oldest colonial master, unleashed more than 200 wars to seize foreign lands and enslave other peoples. The history of U.S. imperialism also abounds in wars and punitive expeditions to conquer foreign lands or to suppress local peoples. In the former Soviet Union, the Stalinist regime used its military to widen the horizons of its power and influence in neighbouring countries. The Soviet military was also used to forcibly implement their ideology and power in the Eastern European countries. In Asia, the military was not part of the ruling elite or the privileged class at the time of colonial rule. As loyal soldiers, the military accepted their confinement to the barracks and obeyed their masters. Over the years, the role of the military has changed everywhere. Today the armed forces of imperialist states preserve and extend their domination, even in the area of national independence struggles.
The Role of the Military and Civil-Military Relations in Developing Countries
The ascendancy of the military over political power in many developing countries is a pervasive phenomenon. The military had played a covert and overt role in the past, but the expansion of its role in the political arena, especially in the developing countries, has been overwhelming during the past three to four decades. A large number of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America succumbed to military intervention or coup d'etats and countercoups. In these countries, the military either assumed power or it emerged as a formidable actor in political processes.
In examining the role of the military in developing countries, one uncovers a number of features that considerably expand traditional perspectives of the military institution. In the past, a "military regime" was understood to be a militarily controlled, administered, and legislated government at every level. Too often the label also suggested that "politics" was separate from the military, but it can be observed in developing countries that a coalition of military and civilian elites, as well as total military regimes, rule. Equally important, politics is as intense in military-controlled as in civilian-administered systems. Defining the actors in military regimes, Sam C. Sarkesian says:
Analysing the role of paramilitary and national police forces in their relationship to the military in developing countries, Sarkesian points out:
In the developing world phenomena of military interventions, it is too often perceived that intervention is undertaken by a cohesive and monolithic military institution. In developing countries, however, military institutions have internal disagreements, disparate loyalties, and differing perceptions of their role. Sometimes a handful of military officers and soldiers are sufficient to overthrow existing regimes in a number of developing countries. One of the essential aspects of a successful military intervention is for the coup perpetrators to ensure the backing, neutrality, or at least indifference of the rest of the military. Another important aspect of the military's role is the "return to the barracks" phenomenon.3 For example, under what circumstances do military men relinquish formal control of a country and return to their "traditional" role, leaving politics to politicians? This phenomenon raises questions about the veto role of the military who are in the barracks, about civil-military relationships, and about the degree of civilian control.
The military's role in developing nations does not always synchronise with its implementation of a coup or with the number of seats it occupies in the official structure of a government, for the power of the military exists basically in its continuing strength and ability or vision to influence the political process or system of a country. The label "military government" or "military regime" has been traditionally used when a military official has come to power as the head of state or when a military junta has become the executive authority of the nation. In reality, however, the military is also capable of exerting power from the barracks.
The interaction between military and civilian elites is another important aspect of the rule of the military. Its influence and impact on the political system is determined in no small way by coalitions between military and civilian elites. The more realistic focus, therefore, is to examine coalition building and factional politics within the military and civilian elite groups and between military and civilian camps.4 The relationship between military and civilian groups has an important bearing on performance. The smooth performance and operation of civilian regimes is also not solely determined by the civilians who occupy the official seats of power. The military's behaviour and attitude has an important impact on the final performance of any type of regime. Therefore, to arbitrarily categorise governments as military or civilian is to miss the fundamental mix of military and civilian elites at work in developing states. As suggested by Sarkesian, by applying the military-civilian coalition model, one can easily transcend national boundaries and focus on common political factors that cut across regimes.5
While in examining rulers and techniques of ruling, Howard Wriggins observes the following political fact of life:
It is also relevant to discuss the questions raised by Morris Janowitz, an American sociologist, about the effectiveness of the political leadership of the military in a new nation, especially if the nation is striving for rapid economic development and social modernisation. In answering these questions, Janowitz observes: "Once political power has been achieved, the military must develop mass political organisation of a civilian type, or it must work out viable relations with civilian political groups."7 In several countries, the military found it easy to seize power but much more difficult to govern the country and to look after the well-being of the people. The role of the military in the process of modernization has important implications in traditional societies. Janowitz asserts that there is a widespread notion of the military being "technocratic in orientation" and concerned with modernisation. Such a view ignores the fact that "the military is also concerned with legitimate authority and with historical and national traditions."
In this connection, as V. R. Berghahn has pointed out, it was, of course, one thing to state that the military in developing countries did not fulfil a modernising role but quite another to put forward plausible explanations for this.8 Based on the analysis of Samuel P. Huntington's modernization theory, military interventions in politics are not military but rather political and reflect not the social and organisational characteristics of the military establishment but the political and institutional structure of society.9 He starts from the basic assumption that "the general politicisation of social forces and institutions" is the most important feature of all developing societies.
When we compare the role and function of the military in different countries, a variety of patterns of military roles around the world can be seen. In his empirical study, "Soldiers in Mufti: The Impact of Military Rule upon Economic and Social Change in the Non-Western States,"10 Eric Nordlinger focuses on the policy consequences of military rule in developing areas and concludes that military governments are fundamentally unconcerned about social change and are opposed to groups who strive for reform. Moreover, he claims that military officers, as a whole, are more concerned about their corporate interests and about the preservation of political stability. Thus, military officers are generally attached to their middle class interests and value systems.
In another study, T. W. Park and F. Abolfathi observed while analysing military involvement in domestic politics and its consequences for foreign and defence policies that "countries with a strong political rating of the military tend to spend a higher proportion of their governmental revenues for defence." They also found that "health and education expenditures tend to decrease as military influence increases."11
During their examination of the performance of military regimes in terms of their political, social, and economic impact, R. D. McKinlay and A. S. Cohan placed regimes into several categories: military regimes, civilian regimes that have experienced military rule, civilian regimes that have not experienced military rule and have a mean per capita gross national product (GNP) of less than US$900, and civilian regimes with a per capita GNP greater than US$900. They concluded that, while the majority of military regimes do not have the normal components of civilian regimes, a sizeable minority do adopt the main formal political institutions characteristic of a civilian regime.12
It is clear that the role of the military in Asia, Africa, and Latin America differs considerably from Western perceptions of the role of the military in domestic politics. In the 1960s, leading American political scientists regarded the military in emerging democratic societies as the only institution which could modernise these countries.13 Military governments, however, have frequently been viewed by the citizenry as illegitimate, and widespread civilian protests rather than a stable political framework for development have been the result. As rulers, the military in most cases act in much the same manner as civilian authorities. Although military regimes vary in their degree of freedom that they permit for civilian participation in politics, "there is increasing evidence to suggest that military rulers do not differ appreciably from comparable civilian elites and party government."14 The military, as rulers, do not generally rule alone. Invariably, they are involved with civilian political groups and civil servants. Usually there is an ongoing interaction between groups within the military and their civil allies.
The features and characteristics of military elites are not always the same within different nations. They differ from country to country and region to region. However, there are commonalities, such as acting as a conservative force, as a nationalistic or revolutionary force, as a combination of civil-military allies, or as an instrument in the hands of an authoritarian ruler. In developing societies, even when the military stays inside the barracks, it can exercise significant power over the day-to-day affairs of civilian front organisations or the staff of cabinets with political technocrats. As a result, the military remains a force behind the scenes to strengthen the civilian rulers or at least a powerful pressure group whose interests and views must be taken into account. Normally, authoritarian rulers in the developing countries use the military to protect their interests. Casually a civilian-military mix will develop, becoming uncontrollable soon afterwards.
The Failure of Political Parties and Military Intervention
The military generally assumes power over a country on the pretext of bringing order to the disorder created by the politicians. The argument advanced is that the democratic institutions have been rendered ineffective because of the corruption of politicians, and therefore, effective administration needs to be restored. It is to some extent a fact that most societies in the developing world have failed to evolve a strong and viable political system. Clement John, a Pakistani lawyer and human rights advocate, has stated that in Asia, however, this is not because of the shortcomings of the people or politicians. "It is because most Asian societies are faced with complex problems relating to race, culture, religion, nationalism, ethnic parochialism, and last, but not least, their class base. In such circumstances, it is difficult to obtain a political consensus on such complex issues."15
The military, on the other hand, resolves these intricate issues by imposing its arbitrary decisions with brute force without taking into consideration the desires or will of the people. In reality, the issues are not really solved; they are only submerged for a while. Meanwhile, the resentful feelings of the people keep building up beneath the surface, and polarisation becomes deep between different sectors of society.
At the same time, the army never realises the fact that political issues cannot be resolved by the suppression of the people. In order to make it more clear, Clement John has pinpointed two examples. In Turkey where army rule under Gen. Gursel only accelerated the polarisation between the various political factions, the result was that when civilian rule was restored there were wanton killings, and the army again stepped in to settle the impasse. Baluchistan Province in Pakistan is another case where, despite two army actions against Baluchis in 1967 and 1973, the question of provincial autonomy remained unresolved.
Political scientists, like S. E. Finer, believe that the socio-cultural environment is the key factor for military interventions. He argues that a low level of political culture is likely to result in military intervention, and military intervention itself seems to indicate a low level of political culture.16
Experiences in the past reveal that at the time of a political crisis in a country military interventions establish military regimes or that a group of officers appoint a civilian government and act as arbiters of policy and politics. The military officers justify military rule on the grounds that the army represents the national interest or that only military rule can secure and maintain a stable political order for economic development. Whatever the nature of military rule, there is a general tendency for the soldiers to establish a veneer of civil legitimacy, either through presidential plebiscites, the incorporation of sympathetic individuals or civilian parties, or through establishing new political organisations.
Militarisation and Civilian Regimes
We have seen that militarisation is a multifaceted phenomenon. The ruling group enforces it as a system to control the economic, political, and social spheres of life. Its diversity lies in the different, yet interrelated, interpretations that can be attached to it. "Defined operationally, militarisation can refer to the defensive reaction of a threatened economic and political order, the posture of which often tends to military abuses and the curtailment of civil liberties. It can also mean the process whereby the military is engaged in [the] active pursuit of political domination."17
Existing governments justify militarisation through political manoeuvres or the need for the protection of national security against internal and external aggression. Interpretations of militarisation vary simply because conditions warranting its rise and the extent of its influence vary. The process of militarisation in any society is determined by the presence of a powerful military institution capable of exerting its influence over governmental decisions.
Those days are gone when generals believed in and adhered to a high degree of professionalism, one significant aspect of which was to keep the army confined to the barracks. Today it is the reverse. Several of the civilian rulers who use the military continuously for their own sake claim a role for the military in the country's politics as a matter of right. Keeping the soldiers away from civil life in the past was considered necessary in order to prevent them from succumbing to its temptations. The military then had a specific and restrictive role to play in the structures of power. The right to rule was considered the domain of the colonial masters who used the services of the bureaucrats and the politicians for this purpose. The military was trained and conditioned and groomed to serve the needs of the colonial system, which ranged from being used as cannon fodder to being used to suppress and control the people.
Over the years, civilian rulers in Third World countries have sharpened the role of the military and have instituted authoritarian governments with the support of the military. The military is being used to advance the cause of vested interests and the ruling civilian elites. With an increase in military power, the ruling elite has become more and more repressive in suppressing political dissent, and the military officers, who enjoy many privileges under the patronage of civilian rulers, are not answerable to anyone. This obviously leads to an abuse of power and authority. The military succeeds in containing dissent by increasing the process of militarisation in society.
Australian political scientist Richard Tanter describes certain characteristics of a militarised society.18 The first, and most obvious, trait is the presence of the military in government, either as a military regime or as a force established in the political space immediately beneath the executive power. Second, the military has a presence in that society's economic life. The level at which this intervention takes place may vary from village-level coercion to something close to a coroporatist national security role for the military in economic development. Third, the traditional values and norms of society are bent, or are in the process of being bent, toward military values and norms through the militarisation of social institutions. Fourth, the administrative violation of human rights becomes part of the fabric of life. Fifth, counterinsurgency operations, which are nothing but a more overt military expression of a general repressive stance, are initiated and/or expanded. Sixth, international aggression is unleashed against perceivable smaller and weaker states. And lastly, the country engages in an expanded military arms transfer program and domestic arms production, which can partly explain a large military budget.
All these features deviate from the traditional concept and role of the military. According to the conventional 20th century political models, the military's tasks are simply to defend and protect the existence or integrity of the State against any perceived external or internal threat or attack. In this connection, Fernando V. Cao states:
Unfortunately the evils of authoritarian or direct military juntas result in the military's notion of its responsibility as covering all state processes: it is no longer a component of the State but the latter's synonym.
We must also understand, however, from Asian experiences, especially of the civilian democratic regimes, that militarisation is not just military leadership. In fact, it is merely one of its more blatant features. This phenomenon has often developed under civilian leadership or where the military is kept on a fairly tight leash by civilian politicians. In developing nations where a civilian government is in power, militarisation has become the most important cause of increased political instability. Cao reveals that the emergence of authoritarian strongmen has been generally preceded by dramatic political and social unrest or tragic events which dramatize the apparent importance of civilian rulers operating under the conventional democratic processes. Usually the situation appears to be so chaotic that to let things deteriorate means the collapse of that society.20
In order to exaggerate the gravity of the internal situation, normally civilian authoritarian rulers propagate the idea that the country is in danger and that revolutionary groups are out to seize power. From all of this propaganda would emerge the authoritarian figures as the real "patriots" of the country or military officers who claim that their intervention is indispensable to meet the "grave situation." A classic example of this was President Marcos of the Philippines who, until he was deposed, used to justify his dictatorship saying that it was necessary "to save the nation and reform society."
The Philippines is a typical example of how a civilian democratic regime turned into an authoritarian dictatorship through the support given to it by the military. Before martial law was imposed in 1972, the country was passing through a grave situation; people were disgruntled. The economy of the country had deteriorated while the rulers proved to be prodigals. The so-called communist insurgency was not at all a threat then but a small guerilla group. Political unrest, however, was rocking even the presidency although there was no decisive political opposition which was strong enough to capture state power; only the Marcos government and its military backup were supreme.
This type of civilian government exposes a tendency to seize all governmental powers and to consolidate its authority. These regimes consequently develop dependence on the West by enmeshing themselves in the international economic and political order. They encourage foreign investments in their economies and resort to counterinsurgency operations at home. They receive large amounts of military aid from the West to strengthen their military so as to be able to suppress their people's collective initiatives.
Somehow there have been spread two notions that the practice of democracy hinders development in developing countries and that development can come only from the West. Behind this is the belief that underdeveloped nations are underdeveloped because of their political immaturity, which is traceable to civilian politicians and their politicking.
Global Militarisation: Its Causes and Consequences
Since A.D. 1700, there have been 471 wars (conflicts involving the death of 1,000 or more people per year), resulting in more than 100 million fatalities.21 To convey a true sense of the reality behind these numbers - the human tragedies and the futile waste of life - is beyond the limited literary skills of a statistical analyst, but the numbers themselves and the historical records do carry some messages which may help towards an understanding of this extreme manifestation of the military imperative.
Historically, as many civilians as professional soldiers have been killed in wars. In the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, civilians have represented about 50 percent of war-related deaths. Recently, the proportion of the civilian death toll has been increasing. Europe was the principal site of wars and war-related deaths over the past three centuries, but the geography of warfare has now changed radically. Most wars are today fought in the Third World. They have not, however, been without the involvement of the major powers, and later this involvement, both overt and covert in nature, has increased. Weapons used in all these wars have been produced primarily in the so-called First and Second Worlds. In some areas, the former superpowers were involved directly. It is significant to note that the arms production and troop build-up and training in many of these countries are done with the intent to use them, not in their own territories, but in developing countries. Developing countries become enemies of the powerful countries when they refuse to follow the orders of the imperial powers. The Gulf War was an example of this kind of imperialistic arrogance.
The most outstanding features of current global militarisation are still visible through the nuclear and conventional arms race, an increasing tendency to resort to force and interventionism, and the trend towards using military considerations to dominate interstate relations, etc., even after the end of the Cold War. In fact, the post-Cold War era has been described as "a new era of post-nuclear militarism."
The war against Iraq signalled a new collective readiness by the imperialist powers, particularly the United States, to impose their authority by military force, and it demonstrated a quantum leap in the destructive capacity of the non-nuclear military technology at their disposal. The 100-hour war against Iraq demonstrated to the world the devastating power with which the new imperialist order can be enforced.22 According to Joseph Fitchett, the Gulf War experience has provided overriding lessons about modern warfare, such as military high technology, strong defensive capabilities, etc. Drawing military lessons from the lightning victory over Iraq, some strategists have suggested that the Gulf battlefield marked the first revolutionary change in warfare since Hiroshima. The significant lesson was that the United States was able to assemble a force several continents from its shores and that this force could unleash a modern war that overwhelmed Iraq and had the capacity to defeat even a more determined army.23
(a) The Arms Race: A Catalyst of Militarisation
The arms race had gone out of control and had acted as a catalyst of militarisation for several years. Although some cut off in military spending has been effected, the world has not become a safer place. The annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says that the number of armed conflicts rose to 34 from 33 in 1993. The United States remains the largest conventional arms exporter in the world, accounting for 48 percent of total deliveries while Russia accounts for 21 percent. The Human Development Report 1994, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), says that arms expenditures in the industrialised countries have fallen by 20 percent in the past few years but have risen in the developing countries by 9 percent.
In her study World Military and Social Expenditures, R. L. Sivard used two statistical indicators to gauge military trends: the number of personnel in the armed forces and the flow of arms in international trade. In neither case, however, is the overall picture unambiguous. Although the world's armed forces (regulars) declined, the large decrease was in China alone. In the Middle East and South Asia, the numbers were rising. It has been reported that secret trade through an extensive international network of arms dealers and a massive undercover flow of weapons is quite common.
The militarisation of the developing world has increased through the importation of military technology and modern arms. At one time, the United States and Soviet Union in the postwar period took on a role as weapons suppliers to Third World countries. The resources devoted to military purposes in the Third World in the form of research and development and military expenditures have always been higher than for social needs. Money which could have been spent on increasing the pace of social development has been diverted instead to arms. Developing countries, for instance, have 19 soldiers for every one doctor.24 These soldiers tend to be used to reduce personal security rather than to increase it; and in practice, these armed forces are often used to repress their own people.
Since the advanced industrialised countries produce weapons on a large scale, they want to export many of their military products to other countries. Normally their customers are the poor underdeveloped countries. It remains true that the United States, West European producers, such as the United Kingdom and France, and also a group of countries with expanding arms industries, such as Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, and Israel, are the leading powers in the field of arms development. Thus, these countries play an important role in the process of intensifying the militarisation of the developing world. The arms producing countries in the world are transferring their production to the developing countries in several ways, such as through commercial sales, military assistance, or credit, etc.
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and China, which are supposed to be responsible for global security policy - are the major arms sellers in the world. These five countries export 86 percent of the conventional weapons being shipped to developing countries. The United States alone accounts for approximately half of world arms exports. A U.S. State Department policy release notes:
In addition to arms for the military, weapons for police forces are also exported to developing countries. Michael T. Klare, who researched the transfer of police weapons and technology by the United States to the Third World, found that the list of police weapons shipped abroad include "pistols and revolvers, rifles, and anti-riot equipment, such as chemical munitions, shotguns, clubs, and water cannons; surveillance and intelligence systems; torture devices, such as thumbscrews, electronic shock devices, and trauma-producing drugs." Under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, researchers at the Institute for Policy Studies have found evidence that the United States supplied to Third World police forces about 615,000 tear gas grenades, 51,0000 rifles and submachine guns, 126,000 pistols and revolvers, and 55 million rounds of ammunition through the commercial sales programme.26 As examples of such weapons sales to Asia, Klare listed sales to the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, south Korea, etc. In the course of the 1980s, the United States sold US$134 billion worth of weapons and military services to 160 nations and political movements overseas. In the 1990s, this pace intensified with US$34 billion in new arms orders from the Middle East and Persian Gulf countries beginning with the start of the Gulf War with Iraq.27
The transfer of arms manufacturing technology has also become widespread during the past several years. For example, in 1945, India was the only country in Asia capable of producing weapons other than small arms and ammunition. Today north Korea produces aircraft, warships, and small arms, etc., under license from the former Soviet Union; south Korea likewise produces aircraft, warships, and small arms under license from the United States; Pakistan produces aircraft under a 1972 French license and missiles under a cancelled West German license; the Philippines produces aircraft under a 1975 West German and U.S. license and small arms under a U.S. license; Singapore produces warships under a West German license; Taiwan produces missiles under a 1976 U.S. license; and Thailand produces aircraft under a 1973 U.S. license.28
The technology for arms production is proliferating through agreements with established arms producers, and covert trade and devious secret arrangements facilitate it. The link between the international military and economic order is a key factor in the promotion of militarisation. Arms transfers, for example, are not insignificant transactions: arms require spare parts and maintenance. Thus, arms transfers result in continuing sales. Arms sales, in fact, are often justified by arms exporting countries as decreasing the cost to them of research and development. During the period 1975 to 1983, more than two thirds of all arms were exported to repressive governments. The spread of sophisticated arms throughout the developing world has been one of the most striking and disquieting features of the modern arms race and arms manufacturing technology. As a result of this phenomenon, the process of militarisation is spreading widely, especially in the developing countries.
(b) External Power Interventions
Both the United States and the former Soviet Union intensified militarisation in several countries because militarisation tied developing nations to them, such as the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for example, were tied to the United States and Vietnam and Laos were bound to the former Soviet Union. Militarism provided the superpowers with testing grounds for new weapons and areas in which to fight proxy wars, using the armies of their satellites to test each other's strength of will without committing their own territories or risking the safety of their own people.
In 1987, there were six times as many Americans under arms as there were before World War II, and military expenditures in real terms were 25 times as large.29 Several factors account for this radical change in the military profile of the country. In two major respects, U.S. postwar governments assumed military commitments which expanded their country's global role. One related to the containment of Soviet and Chinese expansionism in Europe and Asia; the other to achieve anti-communist objectives in the Third World. A third influence, affecting both policy and the size of the budget, was the increased political power of the military-industry complex.
After the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, a large body of U.S. forces remained in Europe, and the United States has, from the earliest years, carried the major share of the overall financial burden of NATO defence. The role of the United States in Asia, the Middle East, especially during the Gulf War, and the Pacific also have been a financial burden to the country. U.S. occupation forces remained in Japan after Japan's defeat in 1945 and in south Korea after the end of the Korean War. Throughout the Pacific area, the United States created a vast network of anti-communist military alliances to contain China and north Korea as well as the former Soviet Union. In this connection, Sivard comments: "An interventionist role is not new for the U.S.; but in scope, variety, and in cost, the actions taken in recent decades are unprecedented."30 Unlike in the earlier part of this century, U.S. interventions have been geographically more wide-ranging. Indirect forms of intervention (interventions not involving U.S. forces directly) have also become more common, although not always successful. Such covert operations did succeed in overthrowing some popularly elected, but leftist, governments which were then taken over by the armed forces. After the Vietnam War, the United States adopted a "never again" stance on the use of U.S. combat troops in internal conflicts in the Third World, reflecting the so-called "Vietnam Syndrome." Under the Nixon Doctrine, America's counterinsurgency function was delegated to "surrogate gendarmes," such as Iran and Brazil.31 With the fall of the Shah in Iran, however, U.S. leaders lost confidence in the Nixon Doctrine and began moving towards the reinstatement of America's traditional interventionary posture. Klare states that "to a large degree the current military posture of the U.S.A. represents a reaffirmation of the Truman and Eisenhower doctrines and other Cold War policies which were used to justify U.S. intervention against pro-Soviet forces in the Third World."
While analysing the new elements in U.S. interventionist policies and ideologies, Klare points out a new element that he calls the "Brown Doctrine," named after former U.S. Secretary of Defence Harold Brown. This doctrine basically states that "Third World instability by itself - whatever the ideological orientation of the antagonists involved - is a threat to the existing world order and thus to U.S. economic security." The Brown Doctrine further assumes that "the U.S.A. and its industrial allies are becoming increasingly dependent on the raw materials (especially oil) and markets of the Third World and that these `vital interests' are increasingly threatened by Third World `turbulence' - meaning social, economic, political, and religious strife."32 This idea was first elaborated by counterinsurgency theorist Guy Pauker, who said: "There is a non-negligible chance that mankind [sic] is entering a period of increased social instability and faces the possibility of a breakdown of global order as a result of sharpening confrontation between the Third World and the industrial democracies." And because Third World governments can no longer be relied upon to control such disorders using indigenous repressive capabilities alone, the United States, "as a superpower cast by history in the role of world leadership," would have to be prepared to "use its military" to prevent the total collapse of the world order.33
The same approach was stated even more crudely by Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, architect of the U.S. intervention in Vietnam: "As the leading affluent `have' power, we may expect to have to fight for our national valuables against envious `have-nots.'" This approach became national policy in 1980 when Secretary of Defence Brown told Congress that "international economic disorder could almost equal in severity the military threat from the Soviet Union" and that, "in a world of disputes and violence, we cannot afford to go abroad unarmed."34 This logic has led to the creation of the Rapid Deployment Force and the present revival of the counterinsurgency establishment of the Vietnam era. During the Reagan administration, the U.S. government fully endorsed the Brown Doctrine and pledged to defend U.S. overseas economic interests against any further outbreak of Third World lawlessness.35
Quite often the United States acts in the role of a self-appointed custodian or guardian and arbiter over other sovereign nations. The problem is that the United States is completely obsessed with its security interests and geo-political role.
Another aspect of the U.S. role in the intensification of militarisation is its anti-communist attitude. It is in this context that U.S. policies and relationships with other countries are determined and formulated. The combination of several of these aspects makes the United States an interventionist power. Whether it is for the interest of its arms industry or its "communist phobia," the United States has made it its business and strategy to keep the flames of conflict and tension smouldering to further its own interests.
The case of the former Soviet Union is different. Because of the geographic characteristics of the Soviet Union at the time, its security was defined more as an issue of defending its boundaries. The Warsaw Pact was the buffer line of defence that would impede conventional aggression against the Soviet Union from Europe. In addition, since the 1960s, there was protection offered to certain allied countries, like Cuba, Vietnam, Angola, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. The invasion of Afghanistan was part of the defence-boundary logic and the seclusion and confinement psychosis after the U.S.-China rapprochement. The main danger is found in the effects that the American policy had in the Soviet military establishment and in the destabilization process of the countries of the former Warsaw Pact allies. All of these forces led the former Soviet Union to take parallel actions to those of the United States.
There were also political reasons for the involvement of developed countries in the militarisation of the developing nations. The economically powerful countries employed weapon transfers as a means of establishing a political presence in a particular area. This was especially true in the case of the former Soviet Union, which had less to offer new friends in the areas of trade and investment than did the United States. Moscow's sale of weapons to Peru on a long-term, low-interest basis was an example of this.36
One of the other reasons frequently cited by the United States and Soviet Union for arming certain Third World countries was to maintain regional power balances. Both East and West justified massive arms sales to the volatile regions as a means of preserving the balance of power and peace. This rationale was usually used to support U.S. arms transfers to Chile and Pakistan while Soviet sales went to Peru and India.
Another important political reason for the external power's involvement in militarisation of the developing world was to maintain spheres of influence that were sympathetic to their particular economic, political, and ideological positions. For the United States, this meant advancing a pro-Western free market system. Although American State Department officials stressed the promotion of democratic political systems, U.S. involvement in south Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines under Marcos, etc., reveal that the United States gave higher priority to supporting pro-American governments than to promoting environments in which the people participate freely in political life. In the same way, the Soviets supplied arms to the nations which had opted for communism, or at least an alternative to a Western economic and political model. Thus, they provided weapons to various national liberation movements and governments like Allende's Chile, Nicaragua, north Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Ethiopia, and other communist countries.37 Arms sales, therefore, continued for a long time as a prime instrument for both the Soviet Union and United States in their rivalry for the allegiance of various countries.
For about 25 years, the former Soviet Union had been deeply involved in Third World affairs and was evidently prepared to help defend its allies and clients against Western-sponsored interventions. Thus, it was perceived that an intervention by one superpower in a Third World country would result in a confrontation with the forces of the other superpower. Superpower tensions often overlaid and intermingled with internal and regional unrest.
For example, both the United States and Soviet Union claimed that the presence of their naval and air force bases in Asia were to protect what they viewed as their legitimate interests in the Pacific. The United States enjoyed bilateral security treaties with Japan, south Korea, and the Philippines; the Soviet Union had Treaties of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, north Korea, Vietnam, Laos, etc. These kinds of linkages with Third World countries established mother state-client state relationships, and tensions between the superpowers often increased and intensified tensions between respective client states. Inversely, increased tensions between respective client states often resulted in heightened friction between the superpower patrons. In the post-Cold War era, however, this situation has changed, especially after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the communist system in Eastern Europe.
Militarisation in the Developing Countries
If global militarisation's most outstanding features are the nuclear and conventional arms race, an increasing tendency to resort to force and interventionism, and the trend towards using military considerations to dominate interstate relations, equally perturbing trends can be observed at the national level. At the global level, militarisation can assume the character of powerful nations stockpiling and producing nuclear-armed weapons in the seemingly unending race for military supremacy; but in the context of developing countries, militarisation is not just merely military leadership or nuclear and conventional arms proliferation. In fact, these are merely its more blatant features. "Militarisation is one phenomenon that has developed under civilian leadership or where the military is kept on a fairly tight leash by civilian politicians."38
A number of external and internal factors promote militarisation, whether it is at the global or national level. However, common factors can be seen in both cases, such as:
When we analyse the causes of militarisation in the developing world, we discover several internal factors, such as an unjust social system, racial structures, a national security syndrome, authoritarianism, internal violence, insurgency, the growth of popular movements, etc., and external factors, such as foreign interventions, the arms race, etc.
In the developing countries, normally a small segment of the total population enjoys privileges and owns a major part of the wealth of the country. The privileged class has access to the government or ruling elites. At the same time, their close association with the ruling class is likely to rely on the use of military force to deter or overcome any threats to the existing order which is beneficial to them. This tendency results in what has been termed a system of "economic apartheid" wherein the privileged few live in "sanctuaries of wealth" surrounded by and protected from the impoverished masses.40 The same is the case of any society where there is unjust racial discrimination. In such a society, the dominant racial grouping tends to rely on force to discourage and overcome rebellion on the part of the oppressed.41 In order to protect the interests of the privileged classes, once the military is used to suppress the oppressed masses or a society has created a powerful military apparatus in response to some real or imagined threat, this institution will often seek to expand and enhance its prerogatives at the expense of civilian institutions. Klare makes the observation that in the advanced countries this drive is often linked to and fed by the self-perpetuating mechanisms of the military industries; in poorer countries, it is sometimes produced by the desire of the officer class (which is often composed of middle and even lower class people) to enhance their status vis-a-vis the traditional ruling elite.42
Authoritarianism is on the increase in many developing countries where military leaders are assuming control of the governing institutions. In some countries, this process leads to the overthrow of civilian governments while in others it is characterised by the destabilisation of civilian institutions to the advantage of military agencies. Under the pretext of an exaggerated "developmental policy," the military tends to impose centralised, hierarchic forms of decision making on all government institutions and to place all other civilian institutions under centralised control, such as the press, educational institutions, trade unions, farmers' organisations, etc. Any groups or individuals who oppose such control are considered a threat to "national security" and are forcibly dissolved or have their activities curtailed by the authorities. In order to promote the rulers' self-image of power and to suppress popular movements, the military uses or diverts more resources to the acquisition of weapons. This phenomenon is quite common in most of the developing countries.
The popular movements or cause-oriented groups which oppose authoritarian tendencies are usually branded as "subversive organisations" or "communist insurgents." There is also a growing divergence of interests between the military authorities and the people, who live in a suffocating atmosphere. In many countries, people have attained power through their collective efforts to oppose the authoritarian rulers. The ruling elites often unleash a reign of terror and brutality on them to deter popular discontent. This process is most advanced in several of the developing countries where the military leadership has tried to wipe out an entire generation of political activists. This process is common in other societies also where martial law has become a permanent part of life created by the authoritarian rulers.
Militarisation and the `National Security' Doctrine
The doctrine of national security was developed in the United States after the Second World War, and it spread to the Third World along with U.S. hegemony. The theoreticians of the concept were originally French military officials who developed the doctrine in the years following the Indochinese war. The Americans, however, developed this theory in response to their specific needs, and it was experimentally implemented in the Philippines, followed by its introduction in Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, and in Latin America after the Cuban Revolution. The development of the theory influenced not only the external policy of the United States but also its political structure. The U.S. National Security Act of 1947 created the National Security Council (NSC), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defence Department, and institutionalised the armed forces' Joint Chiefs of Staff. The national security legislation enacted in the United States was considered as an action of the rulers that contradicted the democratic values highlighted in the American Constitution. However, the U.S. authorities tried to justify their actions in this regard.
The tendency to emphasize the military aspect of security is omnipresent in the militaristic regions of the Third World. Both authoritarian and democratic regimes recognize the complexity of the problem. Within authoritarian thought, there is a tendency to reduce security factors only to a problem of military strategy; in contrast, democratic thought insists on the complexity of the phenomenon. According to Latin American theoreticians of national security doctrine, internal subversion is considered to be the greatest threat to national security. Subversion through ideas as well as through actions is considered the most dangerous. Thus, the government must be alert to declare war against the enemy, whether it is internal or external.
While interstate regional tensions are an important motivation for increased military establishments, an equally important factor is the determination of ruling elites in Asian countries to use the force of the State to assure their continued hold on power and to implement unpopular domestic political, economic, and social programmes. In such societies, "national security" has been defined as the creation of conditions necessary for the implementation of these programmes. When called upon to uphold this concept of security, the military acquires equipment designed for the suppression of domestic resistance and unrest.43 In the role of guard and saviour of "national security," the military acts as the enforcer and gains a large degree of political power in Third World countries. Paramilitary and police forces are also structured and armed so as to coordinate their role with the military for this purpose. Oftentimes arms races sparked by external threat perceptions can also bolster the influence of the military under the plea of protecting national security.
The U.S. attitude in relation to the national security concept in Asia is mainly based on the concept of maintaining a balance of power in the region, enhancing the political and economic stability of the non-communist countries, ensuring American access to the resources and markets in the area, and keeping the major sea passages open between the Pacific and Indian oceans. The United States has considered the primary security problem for its Asian allies to be domestic communist insurgencies. Thus, the United States has always given help directly and indirectly through military aid disguised as economic assistance, especially for the five pro-U.S. countries in ASEAN - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines - to fight against local insurgencies. National security legislation introduced by these countries has reflected an authoritarian concept of state security. Another notable feature is that national security in these regimes has been directly related to American security.
However, it should not be assumed that one uniform national security doctrine exists throughout the developing world, especially everywhere in the Southeast Asian countries. Different manifestations may occur depending on the historical background, national traditions, social structures, political systems, economic stability, etc., of each country. The most prominent element of national security common to several of these countries is the acceleration of militarisation.
In several of the countries, a new institutional structure has emerged with the establishment of an authoritarian government controlled by the armed forces which concentrate the principal powers of the State in their own hands. Even in countries which have a democratic constitution, institutions of democracy are weakened, and restrictive legislative enactments erode the democratic framework. Under the guise of the national security doctrine, a state of emergency will be declared since a state of emergency is a justifiable constitutional provision for any country in order to ensure its survival. In Asian countries, there is a consistent pattern of misusing constitutional provisions for the declaration of an emergency. These provisions have been invoked often to protect a particular regime or rulers facing challenges or threats from internal opposition. The regular recourse to announce an emergency and martial law has resulted in militarisation in most of the Asian countries.
Militarisation: Its Consequences
Militarisation puts a backbreaking burden on poorer countries in the world, among which it is more prevalent.
Taken as a group, military-dominated governments in the developing world have distinguishing characteristics and policies. The countries in which they rule are more highly militarised than are most of those under civilian authority. Relative to population, they have two-and-a-half times as many troops under arms. Their military expenditures per capita also average twice as high as in other developing countries.44 A militarised government, once established, is not easily dislodged from the centres of political power. Sivard has observed that the countries now under military rule have experienced an average of 19 years of controlled government out of a span of 28 years.
An expanded summary of the consequences of militarisation are given below.
(a) Repression and Human Rights Violations
In terms of basic human and political rights, militarisation has had far-reaching and disastrous effects. Among the 59 governments identified as being military-controlled regimes, the most extreme forms of repression, including torture, brutality, disappearances, and political killings, were used by the authorities in 57 countries against the very people who were presumably under their protection. In half of these cases, terror tactics were so frequent as to appear to be institutionalised. Among other developing countries, the human rights record is also not uniformly good. Concerning political rights - defined in this case as the citizen's right to vote peacefully against the government in power - the contrast between the military-controlled governments and other developing world governments was also striking. Only 5 percent of those under military control had no apparent restrictions on voting while among other developing countries six times as many had no voting restrictions.45
Sivard comments that research over the last six years has revealed that human rights violations in the context of military- or civilian-controlled governments give little cause for optimism. The spread of militarism and the growth of political and economic power by the armed forces have increased the danger of violence from within.46 Hence, it is clearly evident that militarisation carries within it a deadly virus that kills human rights. A militarized government, whether it is controlled by the military or is civilian in appearance with military backing, survives on repression. Fear-inducing tactics are used to subdue the opposition, bottle up change, and to ensure the control of resources that nourish power. The authoritarian rulers see that it is easier to break the heads of the people rather than to change their minds. Therefore, the very logic of militarisation requires prolonged detention without trial and often without charges, torture, "disappearances," the control of the mass media, the suppression of popular movements and trade unions, a denial of the right to peaceful assembly, the destruction of judicial independence, legislation by decree, enacting black laws to curtail the freedom of people, etc. These violations of human rights are sadly prevalent in most of the developing countries.
Militarised political power is directly associated with the violation of human rights. In a militarised society, voting is restricted; the press is censored; organising activity is crushed; and there is a quick resort to arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances, murder, etc., whereby people are prevented from freely exercising their political rights. There is no assurance that the benefits of development will be evenly distributed. As Marek Thee has stated: ". . . [F]reedom, autonomy, and liberty of active participation in political life are preconditions to the effective struggle for implementing social, economic, and cultural rights."47 As people rise up opposing these and other authoritarian repressive measures, the rulers resort to further repression to maintain social control. As the military apparatus is engaged to break up people's uprisings, to arrest, torture, and kill dissidents, and to wage counterinsurgency operations, more arms are required. This costs more economic hardship, and the very arms which are supposed to provide security, in fact, foster insecurity.
Where political power is militarised, there is a high level of authoritarian, rather than participatory, decision making. The International Peace Research Association explains why it happens:
The militarisation of the state apparatus is also associated with a high reliance on coercion to enforce decisions as well as the systematic violation of human rights.
(b) Loss of Resources
Militarisation misuses many resources which might otherwise be used for the development of the world. Military expenditures in developing countries have increased fourfold since 1960, and developing world military spending now accounts for 20 percent of the world's total military budget. As a result, serious damage has been caused to economies of the respective countries.
For developing countries, military imports represent a serious drain on precious foreign exchange reserves, not only at the time of transfer, but far into the future. The recruitment of highly skilled workers into the armed forces and defence industries also seriously restricts the quality of the labour force available to civilian employers. Especially for the developing countries, the result is a kind of internal "brain drain." At present, one fourth of all money spent globally on research and development is military-related, and 20 percent of the world's scientists and engineers are engaged in military research and development.49 In addition, an estimated 5 percent to 6 percent of total world consumption of petroleum is presently for military purposes. This is nearly half of what all developing countries, excluding China, consume and more than that used in France alone. Military consumption accounts too for more than 11 percent of the world's consumption of copper; more than 8 percent of lead; about 6 percent of aluminum, nickel, silver, and zinc; and nearly 6 percent of platinum.50 The major producers of military accessories are increasingly dependent on the developing world for cheap supplies of strategic minerals.
The amount of land used by the military on a global scale amounts to between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent of the total land available. Overall, this is rather insignificant; but in a place like Singapore, the military occupies 10 percent of a 226-square-mile island. Land used for civilian purposes must now be reclaimed from the sea.51 In several other countries, the long-term damage to the land, air, and water by the storage and testing of weapons (particularly nuclear) can have a profound impact on civilian activity far beyond the immediate area used.
High levels of military spending, as one of the key elements of the process of militarisation, contribute to inflation in several ways. First of all, military spending generates additional income, and thus purchasing power, without producing any equivalent consumable output or without expanding production capacity to meet increased demand for them. Secondly, the high profits and wages in the industry stimulate demands for higher profits and wages in other industries. Thirdly, where goods and services required by the military sector are scarce, prices rise quickly. This latter type of inflation can be particularly intense in underdeveloped and war-damaged countries.
Most developing countries in the world import their military requirements by drawing on their foreign exchange reserves and, thus, contribute to a country's foreign debt. Arms imports account for 25 percent of the debt burden in developing countries. In order to generate foreign exchange to pay their debts, developing countries increase their production for export, usually to the neglect of local needs. They export primarily raw materials, like oil and minerals, and cash crops, like peanuts, pineapples, bananas, sugar, tobacco, cotton, coffee, etc. Unfortunately, as a result of a world recession, the demand for raw materials is depressed, and commodity prices are at their lowest level in 40 years.52 A terrible irony results. In a world in which about 35 percent of the people in developing countries are underfed, more and more land is being used for the production of export crops. At present, one fourth of the land under cultivation in developing nations is used to produce non-food crops, and this area is growing. At the same time, these countries need to import cereals to feed their increasingly hungry people. Cereal imports by the developing world have increased by 75 percent in the last 10 years.53
All these cases reveal the fact that, even if there is no war, arms spending can destabilize the developing world. Militarisation strains economies already weakened by the world recession, and it diverts the resources of a country from badly needed social development programmes.
Arms purchases have contributed significantly towards international debt burdens carried by many developing countries. Often the developing countries borrow from international lending agencies, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, and use this money for arms purchases. The granting of IMF loans is dependent on the recipient's compliance with a set of harsh austerity measures. Governments must agree to limit public borrowing; reduce the availability of domestic credit by removing price controls and subsidies on basic consumer goods; cut spending for health, education, and social welfare; and hold back wages.54 In addition, they are asked to encourage more production for export by devaluing their currencies and removing export controls.
It is evident that militarisation contributes to underdevelopment in many ways. There are several schools of thought on the interrelationship between militarisation and underdevelopment. Emile Benoit, exponent of the "economic growth" theory of development, argues that military spending may have a favourable effect on economic growth and, therefore, may contribute to development.55 There are differences of opinion on Benoit's study. Some critics argue that his methodology is faulty while some, in fact, reach the opposite conclusion, namely: military spending inhibits growth.56
A U.N. group of experts regard the interrelationship of militarisation and underdevelopment as a negative one, that is, militarisation, as represented by high levels of military spending and the build-up of arms, hinders development because it utilizes resources that could be used in pursuit of social and economic development.57 The third school of thought, while analysing the militarisation and underdevelopment problem, emphasizes the structural relationship between the two. According to this school, militarisation is an integral part of a global order which ensures continued economic and political dominance for the developed countries and continued subordination for the underdeveloped.58 Thus, militarisation fosters underdevelopment, not primarily through the misuse of resources, but through the manner in which it enables the developed North to keep the South underdeveloped.
In order to highlight the significance of militarisation and its impact on development, some development-military comparisons will be helpful.59
In 1987, global military expenditures reached a new high of US$946 billion dollars, or US$1.8 million per minute. Third World military spending accounted for almost 20 percent of this amount. The great powers have 1.8 million soldiers stationed on foreign territory and in 70 developing countries. Arms imports are responsible for 25 percent of the debt burden of developing countries, as highlighted previously, and that burden is rising.
Parallel to these astronomical expenditures runs a long list of unmet human needs. In the world today, 1.5 billion people have no effective medical care; 500 million are severely malnourished; and 600 million are illiterate. The developed countries on average devote 4 percent to 5 percent of their GNP to military purposes and only .3 percent to development assistance.60 Money that is used for the production or purchase of armaments is money that is not available to vaccinate children against disease, to provide people with drinking water. It was reported that a World Health Organization (WHO) project to eradicate malaria, a scourge to many developing countries, was not moving ahead because of lack of funds. The estimated US$450 million needed to complete the project is only half of what is spent each day for military purposes and only one third of the cost of a Trident nuclear submarine.61
Yet the opportunity costs of militarisation cannot be calculated simply by estimating how many more hospitals, schools, and roads could be built if financial resources could be diverted to them from military uses. The effects are cumulative. In this connection, Tames Szentes says:
All of these facts and evidence trumpet the truth that militarisation, which is widespread in different forms, seriously impedes development.
Militarisation deepens the dependency of the developing countries. This is because it is the military, or dependance on the military of every militarised regime, that requires more and newer weapons for its armed forces, even though these weapons may never be used.63 Because developing countries cannot develop or produce the weapons their armed forces want, they become more and more dependent on external supply.
Another route to dependence is through military training programmes. Military training programmes do much more than teach military personnel how to use new weapons or how to instill discipline in the rank and file. "A central objective," according to Miles D. Wolpin, is political indoctrination.64 Participants in military training, whether it is provided by the United States or any other country, are inculcated with a particular ideology which, it is hoped, they will succeed in transplanting to the developing world.
Military assistance programmes and aid to the developing countries from the developed countries are always a trap to keep the developing countries under their foot. A clear example of this is evident from the Philippine experience. In exchange for US$500 million in military aid, the militarised regime of the Philippines assured the U.S. government of "unhampered military operations involving its forces within the Philippines." It allowed the U.S. military the right to "participate in security activities" and to "contribute security forces" outside its bases.65 The consequences of this type of dependence in the Philippine experience has been described by the late Jose W. Diokno as follows:
Dependence characterises the relations between the developing countries and the industrialised countries, especially the major world powers. An unequal degree of reliance on markets and sources of supply and an unequal ability of the members of a pair of states to influence each other, etc., create a climate of permanent dependence. Once political hegemony is established and used to structure a subordinate economic relationship, other societal areas become similarly dependent.67
As a result of these different factors and trends in the developing world, an aggravation of internal polarisation is a common scene in several countries. Increasing poverty and unemployment of the majority, growing affluence of a minority, growing foreign dependence, etc., are the processes whereby the minority gets structurally interlocked into transnational capitalism. The political tensions arising out of these phenomena may well be among the most important explanations for the growing number of repressive and authoritarian regimes that today characterise the developing countries.